Bookish Wedding Inspiration: Leviathan Trilogy

There are minor spoilers for the Leviathan trilogy below.

Once upon a time, I thought it might be fun to try creating themed wedding ideas based off of books, and how the main character’s wedding might look with our modern sensibilities, and thus, Bookish Wedding Inspiration was born! This time I wanted to create a wedding for Deryn and Alek. After TWO WHOLE BOOKS of Alek thinking Deryn is a boy named Dylan, in the third book he finally learns who she is, and finds himself falling for her the way she has already fallen for him. This series was my first (and only, so far) foray into alternate history/steampunk and it created a very interesting picture of a different WWI, and I would recommend it if that sounds the least bit interesting to you!

When researching possibilities for this post, I considered the time period, the alternate world/steampunk element, and of course the characters themselves. Hope you enjoy what I created!

lev-inspirationBridal Look

The Dress (Sort Of)

bride-lookSource

Deryn’s not big on dresses, and while I considered some dress options, ultimately, I thought this was the most fitting: a white, military style coat that can also function as a dress, over riding pants. If you check out the source link, you’ll see just how many military-style, wedding-appropriate options there were from the 2006 fall Dolce and Gabanna line! I thought quite a few of the outfits could work for Deryn on her wedding day, but ultimately, I thought this was the best choice.

Bridal Accessories

lev-bridalaccessoriesHairpiece/Steampunk necklace

This headpiece evokes the 1920s (I assume this is close to the time Deryn and Alek would marry) and simple elegance. It would also look great on the short hair that Deryn no doubt would be sporting. I love the idea of accessories that evoke the travels Deryn and Alek have embarked on together.

The Bouquet

lev-bouquetsSource for second bouquet

At first I wanted a simple bouquet, and was inspired by a picture of a wedding on Downton Abbey to go with a few calla lilies. But then I thought, in Deryn and Alek’s world they may have some exotic plant life that we don’t have, plus, it does seem like Deryn would want more personality in her bouquet, if she was even interested in a bouquet. So basically we have the classic choice that probably reflects Alek more than Deryn, and then the more exciting choice that reflects Deryn. Let me know which you prefer!

The Groom

lev-groomlookOutfit/Compass cufflinks

Alek of course would need to be dressed in a nice, classic sort of style, and I also wanted it to be along the same vein of Deryn’s outfit. I guess I decided they’re getting married in the winter, since they both have coats! And while I suppose Alek wouldn’t need cufflinks if he was wearing a coat, I like these compass ones nonetheless.

The Location/The Portraits

lev-cityhall1

So when I pictured the sort of place where Deryn and Alek might marry, I pictured a sort of city hall kind of place, a small wedding with just their close friends. I found some great pictures from a couple different weddings at the San Francisco City Hall (built in the 1920’s, I might add) and felt they perfectly fit the bill.

lev-cityhall3

lev-cityhall5Source

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lev-cityhall13Source

The Sweets

lev-sweetsSource

For some reason, this particularl tower of treats seemed like a fitting way to celebrate Alek and Deryn’s marriage!

What would you expect to see at Deryn and Alek’s wedding?

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Review: Mistborn

How to sum up Mistborn…

totally-wicked

5stars2The end.

Wait, did you want more than that? You want to know my thoughts on the plots, the characters, the world, be convinced that you should read this? Fine. I’ll oblige.

gr-mistbornHere’s what you need to know up front: This is 600+ pages of fantasy goodness. This is not for everyone, but if that doesn’t intimidate you, or at least you’re open to the idea, then this book probably is for you. One of my first inclinations of the book after I had started reading was that the story is a bit of a slow burn. Let me emphasize: it’s not a slow, drawn-out beginning with massive info dump and waiting for the story to begin. But the story takes its time to develop. The characters take time to develop. That’s part of what makes this story so worthwhile, because in the end it will impact you in ways a lesser developed story just could not have done. It’s all completely worth it and it’s never boring, even when things are moving slower. I never felt that Sanderson was just feeding me unnecessary filler.

The book focuses mainly on Kelsier and Vin, both born as skaa (slaves, essentially), both gifted, but otherwise pretty different. Vin is a 16 year old girl; Kelsier is a 30-something year old man. Kelsier has spent much of his adult life leading people; Vin just tries to scrape by unnoticed and unharmed. Kelsier has developed his abilities; Vin is only vaguely aware of hers. But when the two meet, Kelsier recruits Vin and takes her under his wing, and though she believes he intends to use her for whatever purpose he has and then dispose her, she slowly learns to trust him and his friends as they work and train together.

After a while, we also get introduced to my favorite character ELEND! It seems I have a thing for young noblemen who are a little defiant (Prince Kai in The Lunar Chronicles, Kiggs in Seraphina, Nikkolai in the Grisha trilogy…), but seriously, he brings books to balls and reads them there! What is not to love about that? And his interactions with Vin are gold. In fact, my only complaint for this book is that I think the development between Elend and Vin ended up being a little rushed (which feels crazy to say about this book); they seem to go from flirtatious banter to relationship suddenly. Not that it was too soon, but there is no explanation that I recall about them talking outside the balls, so I don’t when they established things because suddenly it was like bam, they’re a couple. I just wanted more of those interactions, dang it. But hopefully there will be more in the next two books.

This book is hard to explain because it is a fantasy with an intricate world and magic system, and the plot has a little bit of everything going for it: action, adventure, drama, comedy, romance… But seriously, it was all good. It’s character-driven but the plot is great too. And while the ending for this book was satisfying and does not leave you on a cliff-edge, I am certainly anticipating more. (But Nikki did warn me that I will need to read books two and three back-to-back, so that has been noted!)

By the way, just as a warning, not everything in the ending is happy. But the ending is still good and worth it, I promise. There are feels of all kinds in this book.

So basically, if any of this sounds appealing to you at all, you should read it. I think you’ll love it. I know I’m glad I gave it a shot. And I’m happy to give my first read of 2015 5 stars!

If you’re a Mistborn fan, feel free to gush in the comments! 

Content advisory: Mild language, moderate violence

The Top 10 Secondary Characters Who Need Their Own Story

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is a freebie!

When this idea popped into my mind, I was worried I had already done a topic like this one once, but the closest I found was My Top 10 Most Memorable Secondary Characters, which I wrote in 2013 and was a list comprised primarily of secondary characters from The Hunger Games. Since then I have read a lot of great books with interesting characters and feel I could create a more varied list, PLUS, make the focus be about the story they could tell. This week’s list is in no particular order.

1. Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles

throne-cressSource for Thorne art here

Marissa Meyer gifted us all with a short story about Thorne (that I still have not read!), but seriously, all Thorne fans know only a novel would suffice our desire for more Thorne.

2. Sturmhond from The Grisha Trilogy

sturmhond-grisha2

Sturmhond is basically the same person as Thorne, and again, we all want more. I would love to know what happens to him after the Grisha trilogy, but I would also love to know more about his life before!

3. Kiggs from Seraphina

kiggs-seraphinaI love Kiggs, and I would like to know how he grew up and what made him the way he is.

4. Elend from Mistborn

elend-mistbornOK, so I’ve only read book one, and I imagine there’s more of him in the next two books, but I would love to know the details of his royal upbringing, his antics growing up, and what got him started reading those forbidden books.

5. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley from The Harry Potter Series

weasleysAgain, I haven’t finished all these books either, but I just love Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and I’d love to know their backstory. Did they meet and fall in love at Hogwarts? How did Mr. Weasley end up at the Ministry of Magic? Did they always want a large family?

6. Finnick from The Hunger Games Trilogy

finnick-odairOf course, this list would not be complete without someone from The Hunger Games, and like many fans, I’d love details on Finnick’s backstory!

7. Gemma from The Young Elites

gemma-youngelitesImage on left found on Marie Lu’s The Young Elites Pinterest board

I find the whole thing about Gemma being from an aristocratic family and a malfetto, but not condemned like Enzo, really interesting within the world of The Young Elites, and I want more of her story!

8. Harriet from Emma

harriet-emma2I know this ship has sailed, at least for Jane Austen’s perspective, but I would love to know more about Harriet’s life after she married Robert Martin. I was a little surprised when, while watching Emma Approved, I became way more excited about Emma and B-Mart hooking up at the end than Emma and Knightley! It was just really cute! (Those paper cranes!) But when I read Emma, I also found myself really endeared to Harriet there. More please!

9. Caleb from The Divergent Trilogy

caleb-divergentI have some unanswered questions about Caleb, and I honestly found him so much more interesting and complex than Tris or Four. I need more!

10. Marguerite St. Just in The Scarlet Pimpernel

Marguerite-scarletpimpernelI know there are more of these books so there might be more about Marguerite, but I found her really interesting when I read The Scarlet Pimpernel, and my favorite chapter in the book is when she’s at home discovering who her husband actually is.

I was surprised to see this list was mostly guys! But I guess that’s because most of these books focus on a female character. In YA it’s a little more rare to get the guy’s POV, but sometimes I wish I could read their story too!

Which secondary characters would you like to see get their own story? 

Star Trek TNG Season 2: My Top 5 Fave Episodes

As my husband and I are going through our second full watch of Star Trek as a couple, I thought it would be fun to report on the highlights along the way. So I decided to copy the same format as Charlene at Bookish Whimsy, who is going through her first-ever run of Star Trek and sharing her favorite episodes for each season. To compare, see her top 3 favorite episodes of season two of The Next Generation.

Season two is DEFINITELY better than season one! Thankfully, it was a little easier to come up with a top 5 this time, and I even conjured up a few honorable mentions: The Royale, A Matter of Honor, and Q Who? (because as annoying as Q is in that episode, it is important). Here are my top 5…

5. The Dauphin

tng2-thedauphinSo the weird-demented-looking-bear-creatures are a little strange, but this episode just made me smile because I actually enjoyed watching Wesley be all smitten over a girl. I also love everyone’s reactions to Wesley’s crush and their attempts at doling out relationship advice. I think Guinan ended up saying it best at the end of the episode!

4. The Icarus Factor

tng2-theicarusfactorI almost didn’t choose this one because I really don’t care for the main storyline about Riker and his dad and how much they hate each other and want to be macho and blahblahblah. But O’Brien has some fabulous one-liners that made the episode (“No kidding, I know her too, but we don’t do that.”), plus John Tesh is a Klingon and pokes Worf with a pain-stick! Oh yes, and Worf yells in Data’s face: “Be gone!” Basically, I love every part of this episode that is secondary to the main plot.

3. Elementary, Dear Data

tng2-elementarydeardataI don’t love the ending of this one because I think it shows poor judgment on Picard’s part, but I enjoy Data exploring his inner-Sherlock!

2. Manhunt

tng2-manhuntI almost didn’t choose this one either because, ugh, Lwaxana Troi, but then I thought about it and I realized I actually really enjoyed this one! Piccard is just perfect in his reaction to Lwaxana and that dinner scene just really made the whole episode. I also love how Lwaxana casually saves the day.

1. The Measure of a Man

tng2-measureofamanThis is certainly the most thought-provoking episode of the season, and it is episodes like this that make science fiction and Star Trek so great. Can a machine be more than property, and be seen as equal to human? Good food for thought and great character development as well.

Also in season two: O’Brien has arrived, and I just love him! Colm Meaney could be seen around the Enterprise on season one, but he was just a nameless guy on the ship. But now he’s got a name and coming into his own as the secondary character Chief O’Brien, who will later become a main character on Deep Space Nine!

Also, Wesley isn’t annoying in this season! He definitely matured between seasons, but he hasn’t reached that irksome stage that he comes into later when he really thinks he knows everything.

And lastly, we have Dr. Pulaski. She actually only annoyed me in some episodes, mostly in earlier ones when she bullied Data. But she wasn’t bad in all of them, as I remembered her being, but I’m still ready for Dr. Crusher to return.

What are your favorite episodes of The Next Generation Season Two? 

My Top Ten 2014 Movies

I saw 13 movies that were released in 2014, and there are still a few I really want to see that might have made this list had I already seen them, but I was ready to write this post before 2014 seemed too far gone. You should be able to find reviews for all the 2014 movies I saw on my reviews page. You can also see my Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 here.

10. Divergent

This was a pretty decent adaptation of a book that I enjoyed. It does not stand out greatly for me, but only garnered a few small complaints from me, the biggest being the lack of character development for Caleb.

tris-four-divergent-movie#9 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

9. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The last film of the Hobbit trilogy just confirmed our suspicions that one book really did not need to be stretched thin into three movies. There was a LOT of action in this film, some of which was really interesting, but did it warrant a whole entire movie unto itself? Not really.The-Hobbit-Five-Armies#6 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

*Tie* 8. Non-Stop

This was a Redbox rental that ended up really surprising me. It was almost literally non-stop with action and intensity that had me hooked all the way through.

non-stop-movieDid not make My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

*Tie* 8. Guardians of the Galaxy

I had low expectations for this movie, despite the fact that it was Marvel, because honestly, the trailer seemed to be aimed towards 10 year old boys. I was surprised that I grew to care about this group of misfits-turned-unlikely-heroes and that my favorite characters ended up being a tree and a raccoon. Also, the space shots were very epic. Not a new favorite, but worth a watch.

Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_grootDid not make My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

I rated Non-Stop higher than Guardians of the Galaxy, but the latter has the rewatchable factor going for it, which is why I decided to declare it a tie between the two. 

6. How To Train Your Dragon 2

I actually haven’t completely forgiven this movie for getting so dang dark. I mean, it’s supposed to be a kid’s movie! I did LOVE seeing Hiccup and Astrid more grown up and being back in their world, but yeah, I just feel it got way too dramatic. Dang sequels.

how-to-train-your-dragon2#3 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

5. Edge of Tomorrow

This was another Redbox rental that surprised me. I was worried this one might get a little too repetitive like I felt Vantage Point did, but instead I was engaged the whole time and came to care about their characters. I don’t know how much I want to rewatch it, but I did really enjoy it.

edge-of-tomorrow-01Did not make My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

This storyline is slightly convoluted, but I forgive it because I love seeing the old and new meet. Days of Future Past and First Class have really been head and shoulders above the previous three X-Men movies.

xmen-daysoffuturepast#7 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

The Three-Way Tie For #1 (Seriously, Don’t Make Me Choose)

Most Rewatchable: Captain America: The Winter Solider

Watching Agents of SHIELD up to the point of The Winter Soldier, watching this movie, and then watching Agents of SHIELD since then has been a really cool experience. Never before have I known of a movie to build up to something that would happen in a movie, and then for the repressions to immediately continue the next week on the TV show. That, my friends, is taking great advantage of various storytelling avenues.

But The Winter Soldier also stands well apart from the show as a part of the Marvel cinematic universe, and I have no doubt what we saw there will lead to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Since I rewatch the Marvel movies pretty frequently, there’s no doubt I will watch this one again many more times, and as of now, it’s definitely one of my favorites of the franchise.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier#2 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

Most Profound: Interstellar

This is one of those movies that makes you think about life on levels that you just don’t normally go to. That’s why I love Christopher Nolan’s films in general, and he really took it to a whole new level with Interstellar. I have some small complaints about how much the story flirted way too much with the fine line between interesting sci-fi and a little-too-far-out-there sci-fi, but all-in-all, this movie was an experience. The visuals were beautiful, the acting was incredible, and oh how it gave me feels.

(Also, as a follow-up on my comments on my Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 post about this movie, I did really like Topher Grace in this movie, but I did also discover after that post but before watching this movie that I didn’t dislike Topher so much when I watched That 70’s Show, for whatever reason.)

interstellar-cornfield#5 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

Best Mix of Rewatchable & Profoundness: Mockingjay Part One

While I wouldn’t consider Mockingjay quite as rewatchable as The Winter Solider or nearly as profound as Interstellar, it does have a good mix of these factors. It’s not as action-packed as the previous Hunger Games installments; it feels much more quiet as it explores the depths of Katniss’s PTSD in a way that I honestly didn’t connect with quite as deeply in the book. I have mad respect for Francis Lawrence taking what I feel is the weakest book of the trilogy and turning the material into a really poignant film, and I believe he will do the same again for Part Two.

Mockingjay-part1#1 on My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list

What were you favorite movie releases of 2014?

My Writing Strengths & Weaknesses

As I am attempting to revise my novel Earthbound, I have been discussing it with and sending some chapters to my writing buddy Cassie. I’ve got to say, you can’t really write alone. Unless perhaps you’re just an amazing prodigy, in which case I just hate you. But having someone who can point out what you need to work on is just crazy instrumental for the process. I grew up writing but never sharing it, and I have to say that I started to grow leaps and bounds as a writer when I started sharing my work in college for a fiction writing class. We workshopped each other’s short stories, and it was amazing how much my eyes were opened to my natural strengths and weaknesses while writing, and these things have been reiterated to me as I have critiqued with others at writers’ conferences and in my comments from Cassie.

Characters

It makes me really happy to say that my characters always get love when people read my stories. To me, my characters are people I care about and I’m glad that other people care about them too! I also love character-driven stories, so I guess it’s not too surprising that when I write, I can create likable characters.

earthbound-charactersDialogue

Once upon a time before anyone had read any of my writing, I thought I was awesome at dialogue. Why? Because it flowed out of me so easily! I could just write down a conversation between characters that took place in some void because I had no idea where the heck the characters were, much less how to describe it to a reader. But man did I know what they were saying. But I’ve been told more than once that sometimes my dialogue can sound a little wooden, or be too on-the-nose, etc. It’s not that what the characters are saying is bad, it’s just how they’re saying it sounds unnatural. So this is an area I’ve had to work on, and it’s one that I have to remember to work on because I forget that I’m not super awesome at it.

Description

Remember what I said before about writing a conversation that takes place in a void? I’m totally not kidding. I struggle – a ton – with getting myself to describe settings, characters, etc. on a page. HOWEVER, when I make the effort of actually doing it, I get praised for it and told that I’m really good at it! It astounds me because I am so not wordy or purple-prosey when it comes to my fiction writing, but if I push myself at description apparently it works. Maybe it’s because when I actually try, I describe concisely but completely, not taking too much space talking about the setting but not leaving people wanting to know more about it. This was something I really could not do at all before my fiction writing class in college, and that’s when I really trained myself to work on description.

space-station-corridorPlot 

By the time anyone reads my writing I feel good about the plot, so I don’t feel like this has been discussed with me much in terms of my writing, but I struggle a ton with actually planning a plot out before I get the words out. That’s why I have like 100 story ideas but only 4 completed ones (of novel-ish length). Time is a factor too, but mostly it’s just the struggle and commitment to figure out what happens between the beginning and the end and writing it out in a coherent fashion. I’m not like those writers who have no problem doing terrible things to their characters to up the stakes, I want to protect them! But alas, I have to find a way to raise the stakes, otherwise, what’s the point behind it all?

Revising

As I revise, it’s easy for me to be overwhelmed. I’m more of a big picture person, so sometimes it’s hard for me to get into nitty-gritty details, but that’s what the revision process is all about. My characters are good, but they could still use some more work, especially the secondary characters. How can I flesh them out, make them feel more real? How can I describe a setting in a scene better? Does this dialogue sound natural? Does the plot flow? Is it too predictable? What can be tightened? There’s so much to look at.

Recently I was thinking about this and suddenly I remembered where I have read other writers talk about writing in layers. So I’ve decided that now that I have gotten the story written out, I need to focus on the details: the characters, their settings, etc.

For example, Earthbound is set in the future with a vague time frame, but despite the fact that there are families living on a space station, it doesn’t feel very futuristic. I feel I need to focus on adding some details concerning technology that we don’t have today, without bogging down the story. I think Lauren Miller did a good job of that in Free to Fall.

Also, my characters are suffering from grief and some are struggling with depression, OCD, etc., but I’m not sure if it feels like a real struggle I want to make sure they feel realistic, and that you can see them growing and healing.

beach-coupleIf you’re a writer, what do you find are your natural strengths and weaknesses in your writing? Do you have any tips on tackling everything that needs to be taken care of in revisions?

Photos taken from my NaNoWriMo Story Inspiration Pinterest board, which you can check out here

Review: The Young Elites

It’s been a long time since I have felt so engrossed in a story as I did with my recent reading of The Young Elites. I went into the story expecting a slow beginning, a very dark tone, and unlikable main character, but not all those things turned out to be entirely true.

xmenfirstclass-readyIs it dark? Yes, very. But not unnecessarily so. I actually found the MC sympathetic, despite her dark nature and her flaws. And in terms of story, I was engaged right at the beginning, and I did not feel the story was slow or lagging at any point.

The best way I know to describe The Young Elites would be to imagine X-Men set in a fantasy world. There is a group of malfettos, as they are called, those who survived the blood fever, who have distinctive physical marks as well as otherworldly powers.

The story focuses on Adelina, who accidentally discovers her power in the heat of a moment, with deadly consequences. Just as she is about to be executed, she is rescued and brought into The Daggers (one of the subgroups of The Young Elites, another name for the malfettos), a group fighting for their right to life.

gr-youngelitesWhile with the Daggers, Adelina befriends Ralfaelle, a consort at Court Fortuna, where the Daggers hide. He starts training her on how to hone her powers, but later she ends up training more with Enzo, the leader of the group. I feel like I can’t say much more about either of these characters without spoiling what happens, but I did like both characters for the most part, though there were some things with both, particularly Ralfaelle, that kept me from really loving them. I also want to learn more about another of the Daggers, Gemma, who I found interesting. The epilogue introduces us to a new character who I imagine will be the MC of the sequel, The Rose Society, and I am definitely interested in seeing her role in this story and in this world.

After I finished the book I could not think of a real, single complaint that I had for this book. I felt that when I wrote my review, I would enthusiastically proclaim, “What did I love about this book?!” And then respond with…

xavier-everythingBut as I have allowed time to pass, the book hasn’t stayed strong in my mind. When I did think of it, I worried about how I would review it or what I would say about it in my book club meeting. “I loved this book… except now I barely care about it anymore!” I wanted it to be a true and shining 5 star-star rating to end my 2014 reading year with a bang, but the amount of indifference I developed in a short period of time, and with the unfortunate (for The Young Elites, not for me personally) happenstance of me currently reading Mistborn, which is similar in a couple of regards but much better, I feel less inclined to give it that initial, excitable rating I had in mind when I clicked “completed” on Goodreads.

But if that’s my biggest complaint (which it is), that’s still pretty good. So it still deserves a 4.5 in my book. I am still interested in this world, looking forward to the sequel, and hoping that Adelina will find some hope.

4-5stars-editContent Advisory: Lots of violence. Only one swear word. Mentions of prostitution and other off-screen sex but no scenes/descriptions. 

See also: Nikki’s review of The Young Elites

If you’ve read The Young Elites, what are your thoughts?

Movie Reviews: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies & Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armiesposterThe Hobbit simply should not have been made into three movies. One would have sufficed, two at most. Three was just ridiculous.

I had some big problems with the second movie, mainly the overly-dramatic and poorly produced barrel escape scene and the ridiculous “cliffhanger” ending that cut the movie off before a climax even hit. The third movie is just a continuation of the overblown nature of the trilogy, but at least it does not have as many frustrating moments.

The movie begins with what easily could have been and should have been the ending of the second movie. Within 10 to 15 minutes, we finally see Smaug meet his demise. And then the rest of the movie carries on with a completely different tone. Dear Editor of The Hobbit Trilogy, why in the heck couldn’t you have cut a few minutes from movie 2 and included the first 10 minutes of this movie at the end of the last movie? Signed, Everyone. It makes no sense.

I feel at least an hour and a half (but possibly more) of this 144 minute long movie was battle sequences. I usually get bored with non-stop action/fighting sequences within 20 minutes, so kudos to Peter Jackson for actually keeping me engaged in these fighting sequences, but I have to say I would be surprised if I will retain such interest upon a rewatch of the film.

And then there’e that dang love triangle again that is crazy ridiculous…

And in the end, this movie did not leave me with the same satisfaction as The Return of the King. It was just a showy display of CGI (it’s not as bad in this movie as it was in the second, but the LOTR movies seriously look better than The Hobbit movies do) and drawn-out storytelling. It has its good moments, but for the love of New Zealand and second breakfast, don’t do this to us again, Peter Jackson.

Rating: I gave this one 3.5 stars on Letterboxd, but I think I felt obligated to do so because that’s what I rated the second one and this one made me less upset. I’ll have to rewatch both before I can determine if both ratings hold up.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry-Potter-and-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban-movie-posterThough at first I thought this book felt too much like the first two (especially considering everyone said this was the book where the series got better), the ending certainly set-up for something more promising. I was less than impressed with the way the first two movies adapted the book, and was hoping with the change in direction would come a better adaptation. Um, not so much. If anything, the direction was MORE awkward.

It’s like Alfonso Cuarón knows nothing about how to stage a scene. (But a look at his IMDB credits shows he directed well-regarded films such as Children of Men and Gravity, though I haven’t seen either of these so I can’t attest to them.) Maybe they just gave him super crappy sets to work with? (All the sets before Hogwarts did look super crappy. The Dursley’s house did not even look like the same place to me.) And the screenplay was again very awkward in which parts were omitted from the film (like there is no zero explanation about Buckbeak’s trial, Hagrid just suddenly talks about it). Unfortunately, it looks like Steve Kloves writes the screenplays for all the movies.

And while I think Gary Oldman is a great actor, his portrayal of Sirius Black felt way off base. I was very unhappy with the way he came off, and the epic stand-off in the book fell so flat in the movie. Then there was the movie ending on a ridiculous freeze frame of Harry… that alone deserves at least half a star knocked off the rating.

And what was up with The Knight Bus sequence? It felt totally bizarre and nothing like the book. And all those shrunken heads? Where the heck did that come from?!

I don’t hate everything about this movie… I still like our main three characters in the movie, particularly Hermione. I just really hope with the next movie and another change in director, maybe Goblet of Fire will launch a better era in Harry Potter adaptations? (Just looked at the next director’s resume… hmmm… not sure about that either…)

Rating: 3 stars

What are your thoughts on the ending of The Hobbit Trilogy? How do you feel about how The Prisoner of Azkaban was adapted? 

Looking Back (2014) and Looking Forward (2015)

Even though I consider myself sentimental, I surprisingly don’t get too reflective around New Year’s. I did, however, want to share a few highlights of 2014 (books, movies, and things in my life), and mention a few things I am looking forward to in the new year.

lizzie-partyBOOKS

I did fill out Jamie’s 2014 End of Year Survey, probably a little too soon, so here are some updated/more detailed stats on my reading this year.

Final reading count of 2014//Books read: 42/Novellas read: 7

Genres I read//Adult fiction: 3 books/YA fiction: 39 books & novellas/Non-fiction: 3 books/Classics: 4 books

Subgenres of YA read: Historical, Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Fantasy, Alternate History, Steampunk, Dystopia, Fairytale Retellings… and combinations of aforementioned genres!

Ratings//4.5-5 stars: 10 books/3.5-4 stars: 27 books/2.5-3 stars: 12 books/1-2 stars: 0 books/DNF: 1 book

In 2015 I want to read: What I want! 🙂 I want to read at least: one adult fiction bestseller (PLEASE give me ideas), one other adult fiction, two writing books, two other non-fiction books, and one Jane Austen book. I also want to try to read all the books I bought/was gifted in 2014 (I’m not counting a stack of books a friend gave me when he was getting rid of a bunch of his… I intend to read them eventually, but I don’t plan to read all of them this year). I also want to try and actually re-read some this year!

2015 releases I am most anticipating: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Fairest by Marissa Meyer, The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, Do Over by Jon Acuff, The Rose Society by Marie Lu, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Top 3 (Read In) 2014 Books: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, Cress by Marissa Meyer, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Top 3 (Read In) 2014 Book Series: The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (even though I’ve only read the first three so far)

See what I read in 2014

2014readsMOVIES

I still want to do a more detailed post about 2014 movies later, but here’s a couple quick stats for 2014 movies for me…

2014 Released Movies Seen: 13

My Top Three 2014 Movies: Interstellar, Mockingjay, and Captain America

See my Top 10 2015 Movie Anticipations 

2015moviesLIFE

In 2014: I think the most noticeable difference in my life happened in May when I started my new job. I went from an hour plus one-way commute to a ten minute one-way commute. I went from often feeling frustrated and stressed to feeling a bit lighter and much more content. Mind you, my new job is not all rainbows and smiley faces and it does get stressful at times, but it’s so much easier to leave that at work when your drive home is much shorter and you don’t have to wake up at ridiculous o’clock to make that stressful drive again. Also, I have started actually making work friends… I had a few at my previous job but now I can honestly say I like everyone I work with and I actually talk to people AT WORK (don’t worry, we still get the work done!). I had felt very isolated at my previous job, so this has really helped my morale and has been a very positive change in my life.

In 2015: I am looking forward to NOT job hunting this year for the first time since I graduated college! (At least I hope I won’t have to job hunt!) In the new year, my husband and I are hoping we will be able to move to our second home as a couple. There are a lot of great things about our house, but we do need more room and it would be nice to have some things we don’t have now (like a garage). And if this happens, I’m going to try to be good and invest in either a treadmill or exercise bike and USE IT.

My 3 resolutions for 2015 are: Write more. Love more. Pray more.

What are your highlights of 2014 and what are you looking forward to in 2015?